On February 20, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released informational resources that inform students with disabilities, their families, and schools of their legal rights under Section 504. The resources describe the Section 504 protections for the following common medical conditions: asthma, diabetes, food allergies, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Each resource has the same layout, asking and answering the same six questions:

  • What is this medical condition?
  • Can a student with this medical condition have a disability under 504? (For all four conditions, the answer is yes.)
  • How can this medical condition affect a student’s experience in school?
  • What might a school need to do to address the student’s medical condition?
  • What can be done if a student or parent believes the school isn’t meeting its obligations under Section 504?

The resources provide condition-specific suggestions for modifications a school might make to address a student’s medical condition, such as clearly labeling foods to identify common allergens, or allowing a student with diabetes to have a snack during instruction. If a school   a student’s medical condition, the school needs to provide remedies, such as offering re-tests or makeup work without penalty, correcting records to excuse absences, and training faculty and staff about how to keep students with these medical conditions safe.

And if a student or parent believes the school is not meeting its obligations the Department resources offer that students or parents may seek technical assistance from OCR or file a complaint with OCR. But the first option listed is to use the school’s procedures to address their concerns. Section 504 requires schools to designate someone to coordinate their 504 compliance efforts (often called the 504 Coordinator) and to adopt grievance procedures to promptly and equitably resolve complaints about 504 obligations.

In tandem, OCR released data from the 2020-2021 school year on the educational opportunities provided to public school students with disabilities. In OCRs snapshot of this data, they noted, among other topics, students with disabilities are overrepresented compared to total student enrollment in disciplinary actions, and are underrepresented in advanced placement courses, gifted and talented programs, and dual enrollment or dual credit programs.

Grand River Solutions’ ADA/504 experts can assess the efficiency and effectiveness of your 504 function, develop or revise your 504 grievance procedures, create and deliver training for faculty and staff, and more.

The full press release can be found here. The links to the individual resources can be found here: asthma; diabetes; food allergies; and GERD.